3.5 berege simple rules for science journalism

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3.5 berege simple rules for science journalism

  1. 1. Revisiting the Basics in Science Reporting Simon S. Berege
  2. 2. More things to remember • You should use the same techniques for good journalism. • In particular, when reporting science, you should remember the following:
  3. 3. • Read widely (Update) • Science and technology advance so quickly that you must keep up to date. Read articles on science (Agriculture) • Read books, ask experts in each field for advice on the best books, journals and other research publications for your needs -
  4. 4. • Make contacts • Get to know as many scientists (researchers) as you can. • They can give you advice on subjects you do not understand and, like any good contact, they will be a useful source of story ideas.
  5. 5. • Choose people who can give you (a) story ideas, (b) background information and (c) the names of people you should ask for further details.
  6. 6. • Note: • Technicians and laboratory assistants can be a very good source of story ideas, but do not rely on them for the official version of a story. If they give you a story idea, seek out the scientist concerned for details.
  7. 7. • Building trust • Some scientists do not trust journalists. They may not think you are capable of reporting their work properly or they may have had a bad experience with a journalist in the past. They may have been misquoted or seen errors in a story.
  8. 8. • You have to show that you can be trusted. It will help if you do some background research of your own before interviewing them, so that you can show you know the basic facts about their field. • It is not enough to tell them you can be trusted; you have to show it in every story that you write. If you make careless errors or do not keep a promise, you will lose their trust for ever.
  9. 9. • Look for the human angle in your stories. • The people who will be affected by the development will often be your readers or listeners. • Eg: The farmers who use the new corn will be of interest to others working in similar areas.
  10. 10. News Sense • Some reporters actually show their story to their informants before publishing it. This is more common in feature articles than in hard news stories. If you do this, you must make it clear that they are only being asked to check the facts. You must not allow them to dictate how you write the story. They may be the experts on science or, but you must be the expert in what is newsworthy.
  11. 11. Maintaining Sources • It will help if you explain your needs clearly to your informants before you start interviewing. You can explain whether this will be a lengthy feature, a documentary or just a short news item. You can also explain who your audience will be and how simple (or complicated) the information needs to be. This will avoid a lot of misunderstanding and possible bad feelings.
  12. 12. • For example, you may interview a botanist about a new type of disease-resistant seedcorn she has developed. She may give you lots and lots of detailed information about it, enough to satisfy the readers of a farming magazine, when all you need are a few basic details for a general news story. Unless you have warned her first, she may be upset about how little of her information you eventually use.
  13. 13. Summary: • Understand the basic principles of any scientific field before you can report in • Reading books and magazines about science (Topic) • Taking an interest in scientific developments (Updates) • Establishing good contacts with experts who can help you with information
  14. 14. • Simplicity (You are a bridge between the world of science and your community). Although the aim of scientists is precision, and the aim of journalists is simplicity, there should be no conflict between the two. • You must be able to express the precise details of science accurately in simple terms (Experts, Dictionaries, Encyclopedia) • Science is built on accuracy.
  15. 15. • Check the statistics and percentages • (They should be understandable and matter to them) • Get out more. Find other scientists to comment on the work • Go for short sentences (Be able to read loud a sentence in one breath)
  16. 16. • Thank you for your kind attention

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